Potential hypolipidemic effect of hawthorn.




J Nutr

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Consumer Data: Hawthorn Hyperlipidemia
Professional Data: Hawthorn Hyperlipidemia


Hyperlipidemia simply means the amount of fat in your blood is higher than it should be. ("Hyper" means high; "lipid" is another word for fat or fat-like substance; "emia" refers to the blood.) Although high cholesterol is the most famous form of hyperlipidemia, blood fats include more than just cholesterol. Triglycerides, phospholipids, and other fatty substances circulate continuously through the bloodstream on their way to and from organs and tissues.

Blood is a watery fluid. Since oil and water do not mix, fats do not travel in the blood in their free form. Instead, they are bundled together with other substances for transport through the blood vessels and delivery to destinations where they are needed in the body. Cholesterol and other fats are shipped in the form of fat-protein packages called "lipoproteins." Four groups of lipoproteins use the bloodstream as an aqueduct: LDL, VLDL, HDL, and chylomicrons.

Historically, hawthorn was used by Roman physicians as a heart drug in the first century A.D. Today, extracts made from the flower, leaf and berry of the hawthorn plant have been used extensively in Europe to treat a variety of circulatory disorders, including high blood pressure. A recent investigation looked at hawthorn and its potential ability to lower blood lipids. This animal study divided rabbits into 3 different diet groups; a standard diet without added cholesterol (NC group), a high cholesterol diet (HC group), and high cholesterol diet with the addition of 2 grams of hawthorn fruit powder (HC-H group). After 12 weeks of these diets, serum total cholesterol dropped 23.4% in the hawthorn group compared to the HC group. In addition, this group also had a decrease of triacylglycerols, and 50.6% less cholesterol buildup in the aorta. The supplementation of hawthorn, however, did not affect the activities of HMG-CoA-R or intestinal ACAT cholesterol. The authors concluded, " The results suggest that the mechanism by which hawthorn fruit decreases serum cholesterol involves, at least in part, the inhibition of cholesterol absorption mediated by down-regulation of intestinal ACAT activity."1


1. Zhang Z.Hawthorn fruit is hypolipidemic in rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet. J Nutr. Jan 2002;132(1):5-10.